Former state rep and Izard County Judge pleads guilty to embezzlement scheme

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A former Arkansas state representative and Izard County Judge from Melbourne has pled guilty to his role in an embezzlement scheme involving a Springfield, Mo.-based charity.

Federal prosecutors say Eddie Wayne Cooper, 51, pled guilty yesterday (Monday, Feb. 12) to conspiracy to embezzle more than $4 million dollars from Preferred Family Healthcare, a non-profit behavioral health organization.  

Prosecutors say Cooper and several executives of the non-profit used the embezzled money for political contributions, unreported lobbying, and personal expenses.

As Izard County Judge, Cooper served on the board of Health Resources of Arkansas and was later employed by Preferred Family Healthcare as a regional director.  

In recent years, Health Resources of Arkansas, headquartered in Batesville, got into dire financial straits and ended up under the Preferred Family Healthcare umbrella.

Cooper, who was an Arkansas state lawmaker from 2006 until January 2011, received at least $387,501 from a lobbying firm and at least $63,000 in kickbacks from the conspiracy. He was ordered to forfeit those gains.

Under federal statutes, Cooper is subject to a sentence of up to five years in federal prison without parole.

Prosecutors say five additional people – including executives of the charity – are considered co-conspirators, but have not been charged in the case.

To read the complete press release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office of the Western District, click here.

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Eddie Wayne Cooper

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